How to Check Your Car Registration

So you're about to take the plunge and buy yourself a car. It's an exciting time, but there are all kinds of important factors you have to consider before you can make a decision. To give you extra peace of mind, it's crucial to check your car registration. Here, we'll talk you through this process as straightforwardly as possible.

1. What is a car registration?

Any new car in the UK has to first be registered with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority). They’re the government body that handles any issues regarding your license or your car, such as:

  • Taking your driving test
  • Getting a new license, getting your old license renewed, or changing details on your license
  • Organising road tax
  • Registering a disability

Usually, a car dealership will contact the DVLA when they have a new vehicle ready to be sold, and they’ll receive a registration number that will be assigned to the car before it hits the road. This registration number allows both the DVLA and potential drivers to track information about the car with a simple reg check. A car registration is useful for:

  • Safety
  • Security
  • Fair trades between buyers and sellers

2. Where can I check my car registration?

Once you’ve found the car’s registration number, the fastest and most efficient way to do a DVLA vehicle check is to go to the official DVLA website. Simply enter the car’s reg number into the search box to bring up a page with all the information that the agency has about the car. You can also contact the DVLA by phone if this is more convenient for you.

3. What can I find out from a DVLA reg check?

When you check your car registration, the DVLA will provide you with a number of important facts about the car, including:

  • Vehicle tax/SORN status. When you’re calculating how much a car is going to cost, you’ll need to take into account its tax rate, and the reg check is the best way to find this out. You’ll also see how long its tax status will last for and whether or not the car has been taken off the road.
  • When its MOT expires. This will help you to figure out how much maintenance a car is likely to need and give you a clearer picture of what ownership will be like. View this guide on how to check a car’s MOT history for useful tips.
  • The date it was first registered and the last log book (V5C) issue date. Knowing how long a car has been on the road and when it last changed hands helps you get a feel for its condition and might help you figure out any issues that could arise.
  • Year of manufacture. If you know the specific year that a car was made, you’ll know how up-to-date its engineering and technology is. You can also do some further research and find out if models from that year had any particular problems or benefits associated with them.
  • Type approval category. This tells you which set of standards a vehicle conforms to, indicating the level of performance and quality that you can expect from it.
  • Weight and engine size. Knowing these specific details about your car will help you get an idea of what it will be like to drive. Also, if you’re wondering how much you’ll have to pay to insure a vehicle, these are two of the most important factors.
  • Fuel type and emissions. What kind of fuel the car uses is another important thing to consider when you’re calculating costs, as it gives you a rough idea of how much you’ll pay to keep it running. Taking into account the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of the car’s engine is also crucial before you buy.

4. What if I can’t do a reg check?

You might try to do a DVLA reg check, only to find that your reg number doesn’t return any results from the database. There are a couple of reasons why this might happen:

  • The car hasn’t been registered yet. If a car has only just been delivered to a dealership, it will only recently have been registered, and sometimes it can take a few days for the database to be updated. In rare cases, it might be that the dealership just hasn’t registered the car at all.
  • The car has the wrong registration plate. Very occasionally, the registration number that was allocated to a car by the DVLA will have been printed wrongly on its registration plate, so you won’t be able to find the car in the DVLA database.

If you’re not able to carry out a DVLA vehicle check on a car, you should reach out to the dealership or whoever sold it to you. They can chase it up further and make sure that the vehicle was registered and the correct information was passed on to you. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, just contact the DVLA directly and they’ll try to figure things out and get you on the road as quickly as possible.

The DVLA vehicle check is an essential step on your car-buying journey, and it’s the best way to get to know a model and decide whether it’s the right one for you. Once you have all the facts you need, provided by a reliable source, you’re free to make an informed choice – and to drive away in your new pride and joy!

Thinking of buying a new car? Take a look at our complete checklist for buying a used car and how to change the ownership of a car for helpful tips and advice.


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